Steven Weinberg, the scientist of the interview, was running along nicely until this one sticky spot, where he said:
We don't see any purpose dictated to human beings in nature. Human life does have a purpose, but it is a purpose that we invent for ourselves. It takes a certain act of courage to look at nature, not see any plan for human beings in there and yet go on and live good lives, love each other, create beautiful things, explore the universe. All these take more courage without having some divine plan that we discover, but one that we rather create for ourselves.At which point, Ana Elena Azpurua of Newsweek asked:
Do you think most people have that kind of courage?And he answered:
I don't know. People have to have a lot of courage just to get on with their lives. And if there is no … Well, I don't know the answer to that question.Well, there you have it. At this point, I would ask the gentleman if he thought it took courage to do the things which are related in the Bible - Esther with Holofernes, for example, or the epic battles against incredible odds, or - as remembered last week - to willingly undergo crucifixion.
Those episodes fall outside of the bland "live good lives, love each other, create beautiful things, explore the universe" type of thing, don't you think?
And yet many of us take up a cross every day in some way, and do it with courage not our own. Perhaps Dr. Weinberg hasn't had the kind of experience which would drive him into the arms of God. He might at least allow himself to postulate that God exists, so as to be ready ... just in case.
You can examine the brain with a microscope, and not find the mind. You can study the universe all your life, and not find God.*
On a separate note, I admire Ana Elena Azpurua's interview skills. She elicited a clear statement from the scientist, treated him fairly, and didn't pounce on his "I don't know."
Because which of us does know, really?
* I cannot locate the name of the author of this quote at the moment ... will update with it when I find it.